2019 DSF Encourages faithful to bind together to do good works, share resources

February 26, 2019

Altar servers process through the sanctuary at Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Houston. More than 60 ministries in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston benefit from the Diocesan Services Fund. Photo by the Office of Development.

HOUSTON — In the final chapter of Hebrews, followers of Jesus are instructed to continue to do good works and share resources with those who are in need. By supporting the 2019 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) annual campaign, “Do Not Neglect to Share What You Have,” the faithful in the Archdiocese have an opportunity bind together to help thousands of people living in their own communities.

“If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot just say what we have is our own, but instead a gift from the Lord,” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. “DSF continues to be the large service umbrella within the Archdiocese that binds us together in serving others and sharing what we have.”

Cardinal DiNardo said that all donations to the DSF support the more than 60 ministries. No funds are spent on the administration of the Chancery. The four ministries supported by the DSF featured in the 2019 DSF campaign are the Office of the Permanent Diaconate, Ethnic Ministries, Jerome’s Hope and Catholic Charities.

In its 50th anniversary, the Office of the Permanent Diaconate of Galveston-Houston is one of the largest formation programs in the country, with more than 400 permanent deacons, 227 currently in active service in parishes and special ministries. Also served are approximately 150 men currently in some stage of the extensive six-year process to become a Permanent Deacon.

According to the Office of Permanent Diaconate Director Deacon Phillip Jackson, the ministry’s mission, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is to help form these men to become the best deacons God has called them to be. He said this mission does not stop once they are ordained.

“Within our geographic boundaries, our Archdiocese has numerous hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, juvenile detention centers and half-way houses that need ministers of charity, in addition to parishes,” Deacon Jackson said. “Each deacon is the face of Christ the Servant, and the need for these men has never been greater.”

This increased need for deacons, as well as volunteer support in general, is evident when it comes to serving the hundreds of thousands of Catholics living in the Archdiocese that represent several culturally diverse ethnic groups from around the globe.

The DSF-supported program responsible for providing sacramental and pastoral care to the multitude of cultural and linguistic groups of all ages is the Ethnic Ministries, which is comprised of the Hispanic Ministry, Vietnamese Ministry, Ministry to Catholics of African Descent, Filipino Ministry, Korean Ministry, Chinese Ministry, Polish Ministry, Indian Ministry and Indonesian Ministry.

“We are all distinct, but we are all one,” said Deacon Leonard Lockett, former vicar of Catholics of African Descent. “We talk about one holy and apostolic Church when we recite the Creed, so while we may be one of the most ethnically diverse Archdioceses in the world, we are united in our works for Christ. We all may look different and have a variety of dialects, but we are Roman Catholic and share in the same faith and graces that God provides.”

One of the issues uniting Catholics together in service in the Archdiocese and around the globe is protecting and nurturing human life, from conception until natural death. The DSF-supported ministry in the Archdiocese responsible for promoting this culture of life through education, pastoral care, prayer and advocacy is the Office of Pro-Life Activities (PLA).

While the practice of abortion in America continues to be on the forefront of pro-life issues, Julie Fritsch, director of the PLA, said other important initiatives include: protection for persons with disabilities; access to health care; guidance about Church teaching regarding health care and bioethics; providing compassionate care for persons at the end of life; public policy and legislative advocacy; and education of the faithful on these issues.

PLA launched a new program last year, Jerome’s Hope, which aims to provide spiritual, psychological and practical support to parents and families that have received a difficult diagnosis during pregnancy, are raising a child with significant health issues and/or have experienced a miscarriage.

Jerome’s Hope volunteer, Monica Rivera, feels called to support and share her own experiences with other families in similar situations. When her son was diagnosed prenatally with a genetic condition, she was given the option to terminate her pregnancy by her doctor but chose life.

“I never felt pressured to abort, but I often learn of other mothers in similar situations who are encouraged and pressured to abort, even without a confirmed diagnosis,” said Rivera. “My husband and I had to strongly advocate for certain things in preparing for our son’s birth. I think if we had not done this, our son may not be with us today.”

Rivera said most people, at one time or another, are faced with challenges regarding life. Whether it is receiving a prenatal diagnosis, an unexpected pregnancy or having to make end-of-life decisions for a loved one, she feels Jerome’s Hope helps provide education, advocacy and support to those in these situations.

Another ministry in the Archdiocese demonstrating an outpouring of love and support for those facing a life-challenging situation is Catholic Charities, the city’s leader in long-term disaster case management.

For nine months after Hurricane Harvey, through the support of the DSF, Catholic Charities was able to compassionately provide financial assistance, basic needs and food assistance to close to 28,000 individuals, including children and seniors, and 5,980 households living in three counties in the Archdiocese — Harris, Fort Bend and Galveston.